Teams will still have to fundraise this Fall, but will your coaches, parents, athletes, and fans be as open to trading cash like they have been in the past after COVID-19?
Romy Glazer: Hi everyone it’s Romy from VNN, it’s about 9:52 here central time in Minneapolis. We’ve got Brett and Rick with me. We were just chatting ahead of time so we’ll get started here in another ten minutes or so once we let people join. Thanks for being here.
Perfect. So thanks so much for everyone for joining. I’m Romy, marketing at VNN. I’m here with Rick and Brett to talk today about fundraising. Really excited that you’re here to join us and spending your Friday morning with us. There’s been a serious we’ve done over the past few weeks where we introduce new technology. People are at home, so we’re all kind of learning together and we wanted to just get you guy familiar with what we have to offer, or what some other of our friends in the market have to offer in kind of a low-pressure environment. And, a chance for you to see, you know, what kind of tech is out there. We’ve been doing once a week, we may start spreading them out depending on the interest level from everyone and who’s signing up, but one thing to mention is that after this webinar, we’re going to send a poll out to everyone who joins so we can find out what topics you’re interested in hearing about, so we can be sure that we’re, you know, creating this sort of content with exactly what you want to hear about. A few ground rules right now, so we’re going to try and keep this to about 30 minutes. In previous webinars, we’ve gone over a little bit, but most of the content is going to take place in 30 minutes. And because we have a lot of people, we have it in listen-only mode. But we also have this recording so we post it to our YouTube channel, and you can take a look after. You’ll get a link to the video if you need to send it around, anybody, any of your friends or administrators or whoever it is. And them I also am acting as moderator for the day, so if you have any questions at any time, post them in the questions tab or in the chat, and I’m going to keep an eye on those. And we’ll run through everything that we have to talk about up front, and then on the back end we’ll have a Q&A where I will bring up questions if we want to bring them to the group. So it should be really fun, thanks again for being here. With that I wanted to introduce Rick Ehrman, CEO of VNN to kick us off, and Brett Thompson, founder of Rally Around Us.
Rick Ehrman: Thanks Romy. I just thought, you know, these sessions are usually most productive if we get to the Q&A as quickly as possible, so I just want to remind everyone of a couple things. You know, everything that we do, and you’ll see in our mission slide, if you were to really translate that into what we talked about internally, everything we do from content creation to building tools, to partnerships, are all focused on making athletic director’s lives easier. And by default, coaches and parents and athletes, so two big, you know, sub sectors of that, are communication and funding. And we feel so much about helping all of you raise funds that, you know, we were passionate enough about this business that we actually acquired Rally Around Us back in January. So I think some of you were on that call when Brett and I announced our operational partnership turned into an integration, an official vertical integration, where he’s part of the company. So great progress in Q1. Since we’ve integrated, Brett’s going to share some really interesting unique testimonials, but more importantly show all of you a demo of how high schools and student athletes are being successful raising funds, versus the traditional way.
One other thing I just want to kind of plant a seed, we’re not only rolling out digital tools to help you, we’re also in the process, and it’s a little premature to talk about, but I think we’ll be ready next week with a webinar to talk really about a social responsibility initiative where we’re all looking to partner with five or six national brands around the country. And they’re big brands, they’re household names that really want to create a statement of this package to help high schools make up for the revenue that they really missed out on during the spring season, help raise funds for the fall. So when we come out of the COVID-19 situation, hopefully sometime this summer, that all of you are kind of prepared to go back into business mode. So stay tuned where that’s all being formalized as we speak. It’s going to be some exciting information and press word worthy. I’ll go as far as to call it a stimulus, stimulus package that will be presented by VNN and some of our partners that I think will excite all of you. So, if there’s any questions at the end of this around that, I’m happy to answer the ones that I can, but I thought we focus now on Brett and showing the user experience of the app.
RG: Great thanks Rick.
Brett Thompson: Romy let’s go ahead and pass the presenter all over to me.
RG: Great coming your way right now Brett.
BT: Right perfect. Well thanks everybody for joining. I, like Rick mentioned, we are now officially part of VNN since January, and it’s been amazing, it’s been amazing to be a part of the team, to be connected with the leader in high school sports tech. Rally Around Us was founded back in 2015. Just a quick background on myself, I grew up playing sports, had the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, played receiver for BYU, and kept close with my athletic director as well, both my college athletic director as well as my high school athletic director.
Just through a series of conversations with them, understanding some of the pain points that athletic directors, coaches, parents, athletes, are all having when it came to fundraising. Saw a great opportunity to utilize some of the social media and digital marketing that we have available to us now, and created Rally Around Us. To this day, we’ve helped teams raise over 5 million, and looking at VNN, we first started off as a partnership with VNN, and as that partnership bear fruit for a lot of teams that we worked with, we decided to integrate into their platform. And that was back in 2019, and now we’re again part of VNN. And definitely, definitely are grateful and appreciative of them. I love working with them, love being a part of sports.
RG: Brett, or maybe he might have been muted, yeah your computer, your phone, we hear a little echo.
BT: Okay, you guys hear me now good? Perfect. So I want to give you guys just a quick idea of the success of these online crowdfunding campaigns. And I have this slide here, it breaks it down by team size so you can see four teams that have 15 to 49 athletes. On average, they’re raising $5,000, and as the team size increases, the averages also increase. So we have campaigns that are raising upwards of $40,000, $30,000 just depending on size. And that is without any out-of-pocket cost. There’s no financial risk, there’s no products being sold, there’s no overhead. There’s no handling of money, it’s all done digitally. And this all happens and takes place in a 30 day period. So it’s a 30 day campaign, and I’ll get into more what a campaign consists of.
One thing to bring to your attention too with these online campaigns with our platform, the average donation in 2019 was $68 per donation, which is extremely high. And not only is that a high amount, but dollar for dollar with a digital fundraiser, you’re getting more of that donation as well. So jumping into a little bit about how this works. And as we go through how it works, I also want to dive into a product demo as I explain how this works.
So first thing we do with our programs is we helped them create what we call a school branded campaign page. And to give you guys a visual of what that looks like, I have two examples here. So if you are a VNN school, you’ll notice that there’s been a donation button that has been added to each of the team’s page. Right here we’re looking at, or by the high school, and we’re looking at their football program’s page. And once we go live with a campaign, and you’re a VNN school, this is integrated to run right in the website. So those that would like to support the program can come to the website, they can choose the custom donation amount that they would like, and they also have the ability to select a participant, the athlete, or the, or whomever it may be that they would like to support. They can donate to the entire program, or they can choose an individual participant. That’s part of that program, and then they just go ahead and they can put their card information in. And an email donation receipt of sent to them after their donation.
You’ll also notice if I was to refresh this, that comments can be made. We have a recent donor list, and it shows different messages that people can leave right here on the page for programs that are not VNN schools. We have the opportunity for you guys to still run campaigns through our platform. It’s hosted in our domain, so this would not be necessarily integrated in your school site if you’re not a VNN program. But you can see here that it’s a very similar page. It’s a custom branded school logo, and the conations again can take place right here from this campaign page. So there’s a couple of things that we need in order to create these campaign pages, and that’s when we need to help the coach or the admin for the campaign.
And to get a custom campaign page set up just requires a couple things. The first being a campaign video. You can see here as I go back to this example, we had a little bit of a video issue, so I’m not going to play this, but I will have Romy put a link in our YouTube channel so you guys can have examples of what these videos look like. But the video gives the opportunity for the team or program to talk a little about about the goals that they have for the year, and the money that will be raised, how that’s going to be used and benefit their program. And it’s great for donors to get on here to see a video, see the effort that the team puts in to connect with them and their donors. And we allow teams to get as creative as they would like with these videos. We’ve had lots of programs pull in the video department at the school, where students are participating and help building out these videos.
And then we also have simple videos, where a team gets together like they’re going to take a team photo, and the different athletes or participants have different lines that they say. We provide to each of the admins or the coaches that we’re working with a video script I’ll show you guys an example of that here. Here’s just a quick flyer that we send out to our coaches that gives them an idea on how to run or film a campaign video. Again, it could be as simple as you would like, and it can also be as elaborate as you would like. You know, during this time where athletes are at home, we’ve seen some really creative videos that I would love to share with you guys. We can provide some more links for those as well, where we’re either doing a voiceover. So a coach will send us a voice memo, and we can put pictures behind the voice memo, and that’s just a simple way in the times that we’re in right now to create these campaign videos. We’ve also had where athletes are recording themselves in their homes. We’re taking the individual videos, combining them together, and creating a campaign video that way. So even though the team cannot be together, there’s still opportunities for them to create the campaign videos and get creative with their videos as well.
So once we have the campaign video and a couple other additional data points, we’re able to then create these campaign pages. So that’s the first step in running your guys’ campaigns, is to get that campaign page set up. Now the second is what we like to call the bread-and-butter of these campaigns. It’s what makes them so successful. And that is each athlete or participant goes home, sits down with their parent or guardian and, and comes up with a list of 20 contacts of people who are in their network that they think would be willing to support their program, whether that’s through a donation, or being willing to share that on social media, or pass along to, you know, neighbors and family and friends.
I have a flier that I want to share with you guys, and this is what we send to coaches. And coaches print these out, and they give them to their athletes to take home. Again, they sit down with their parent or guardian and they fill out this work sheet right here. And there’s directions on how to do this, but essentially again, we’re not looking for peers to be added to this. It’s people that you know these athletes think would be willing to support their program In addition to filling this out with their parent or guardian, we make this very simple to submit these contacts through our mobile app, and I’ll walk you through that process here.
So if you want to bring your eyes over to the app that I have on the right side, my screen, what I have done, I’ve created a player’s login just to save some time in the login process, but once an athlete logs in, they’ll be asked to provide a campaign ID. And when we build a campaign page, we share that ID with the admin so that they can make sure and pass that on to their athletes. They take that campaign ID after they’ve logged in, they type it into here, and that campaign ID is what’s going to connect them to the team’s campaign. Here we are in the app, the next step after typing in the campaign ID is submitting the contacts. So let me give you an example here. You can see we have a sheet of paper that we would like the participants to fill out, and we like them to actually turn that into the coach so that the coach has a good idea that participation before a team meeting occurs, where the team can say, you know, download the app and submit their contacts. What this app does, is that allows the participants to submit their contact digitally. So without having to basically sit there and type all the emails and phone numbers in manually, which could take quite a bit of time, we make this simple. Basically a touch of a button to be able to submit people on their contact list.
So hereI am in my phone’s address book, that’s what it syncs up with, and I can go ahead as an athlete and select those people who I had added to my address book. After I select the 20 or so potential donors, I click this upload donor button. And by doing that, it’s going to submit those contacts. And those contacts are then sent to our team on our end, and I’ll get into what we do with those contacts, but again, we make it as simple as possible for participants to add contacts to their campaign. So let me click out of here for a minute, pop back in. So now that an athlete has submitted their contacts, going through a little bit more of the app here. I’m under the statistics tab, and this give a quick snapshot to the athlete of the number of donors that they’ve submitted. How many of those donor they’ve submitted have donated, the amount that they’ve individually raised, as well as how much the team’s raised. By clicking down here on Andrea’s donor list, it shows the contacts that were submitted by the athlete, the individual athlete. And you can see that as soon as somebody donates, it will link up in their app, and they’ll be able to know the person that donated.
Also, our app allows notifications. So in real-time when an athlete’s contact they submitted donates, they’ll get an alert in real-time letting him know that that person has donated. And that’s been great, we’ve had a lot of really good feedback where athletes will, right away when they see that pop up, they’ll even send another personal test message to that person who donated, and again it’s just another person touch. Notifications can also be seen throughout the app when people are donation, but that’s the basic. The home screen is just going to give us a quick snapshot of the campaign. The athlete can watch the campaign video, and they’re also able to see the team success as a whole. The campaign page the athletes submit their contacts is what makes it nice with our mobile app. Even though these athletes are at home, they have the ability to do this just from the comfort of their home with their phone. They can download the app, they can submit their contacts, and they’re ready to go.
What I want to do now is, let me sign in to the admin view and give you guys a look at the admin view here. So now we’re in the admin view, we’ll go to the statistics page. So for athletes, they can see the success of the contacts that they submitted for themselves. Now, as an admin you can see the success or the overall snapshot for your team. You can see that for this program, there was 574 donors that were uploaded, 97 of those people have donated, and the team’s raised over $7,000, which in this case they hit their fundraising goal. And then here’s the team list. It shows a breakdown of each of the athletes on their team, it shows how many contacts they’ve uploaded, how many of those that were uploaded have donated, and then how much each athlete has individually raised. So there’s a really really good break down there. And, again, similar to a player’s view, the admin can also get notifications on when donations come through. And there are settings to turn those off and throw them on, or reduce the amount that you get, but again, we just want to make it as real-time as possible for those that donate to know that donations are coming through all right.
So after the contacts have been submitted by the participants, the question now becomes okay what do we do with these contacts, and how does this work once the contacts are submitted. And that’s what I’ll get into now. So the way that these campaigns work is they run for 30 days. And what I mean by 30 days is the outreach that going out to the donors is going to be over the course of the 30 day period. There are several updates, reminders, through email, text alerts, social media posts, that happen throughout that 30 days. Now once the 30 days have been reached, the campaign remains live on the school site or on the RAU site, but the outreach no longer happens. We’re not continuing to send you updates and reminders past a 30 day period.
To give you guys an example of the content that goes out, we make it seem, and we want it, to feel as authentic as possible. We collaborate with the coach, with the athletes, to make sure that what we’re providing in these emails on behalf of them, is what the team would like the message to be. So you can see here through email, text message, social, and alerts, this is a snapshot of what an email would look like that a donor would receive. And here’s also, I can move this so that you guys can see the text as well, so there’s the email and there’s the text and donors at the palm of their hands can click on that link. It’s going to take them to the campaign page where they had the ability to support the program either by sharing it on social media or providing a donation if they would. But we get creative. We customize these outreaches, again we collaborate with, whether it’s the AD, whether it’s the coach, if parents want to get involved, we just want to make sure that the content is exactly what the team would like. This is where the success of the campaigns happen. If you think about some of the other fundraisers that perhaps your teams run, it’s a low touch point. They may be interacting with that donor one time, or inviting that donor to act one time now. With utilizing email, text message, social, and alerts, we’re telling the story throughout the 30 day period. We’re giving updates of the success of the campaign, how much they’ve raised, how close the team is to goal. And it’s never presented in a way where we’re trying to shove donations down anyone’s throat. We just like to give these donors an opportunity to connect with the team and support them however much they would like. Whether it’s a $5 donation, we’ve seen $5,000 come in as donations, so it’s really up to that we give the donor the ability to choose how much they would like to donate.
Now if you are a VNN school, there’s some really great integrations into the platform. Any time a campaign goes live, an article on the site is created and pushed out to social media. But then also, those who have signed up for alerts, so there’s some really cool integrations that happen there. So that’s that’s the end of the product demo. And again, I encourage you guys to look at our YouTube channel. There’s some more information there that can be shared with these coaches.
Now to get into the pricing. We’re a revenue split on the campaign. So the total amount raised, we do a percentage split based off that amount. And typically we work with an individual team, our profit splits a 75/25 split, meaning 75% of the funds go to the program, the other 25% stays with us. And then we cover all the transaction fees that comes out of the 25% that we have. Now what we’ve done is we’ve partnered up with a bunch of athletic directors across the nation. And for those that would like to make Rally Around Us or VNN their exclusive online donation software, we do an exclusive pricing, which is an 80/20. And the 80/20 split, if we are the preferred vendor for your online donation campaigns for the entire school, then all of your schools get a better profit split of an 80/20. And of course, if this is something that you guys are interested in utilizing for your teams, or for your athletic program as a whole, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’ll turn the time back over to Romy
RG: Thanks Brett! you can also go to our website at VNNsports.net, there’s a page that just /fundraising, not that long link if you want to learn more. You’re also going to get emails from me after the webinar, so if you’re interested you can always reply, I can get you in touch with people. So you know, we’re happy to help. Cool, thanks Brett that was great. Q&A time. So I saw, if you come in, we’ll start with this one. Can campaign be set up so a percentage of the donation goes to the general athletic fund, in addition to the specific team? I know we have a lot of ADs on this call, so wanted to ask if that was a possibility.
BT: Absolutely, we can definitely set up that.
RG: Cool. Okay so let’s see, when someone donates, what does it look like to the person making the donation? Is there like, a receipt that goes out so people are able to do taxes, or you know, or use it for their files for charitable giving?
BT: Yeah absolutely. I don’t have this pulled up into any of my presentation notes, what we can definitely make sure and get an example of what that receipt looks like, but it’s school branded and it includes the donation amount, and yes it can be used for tax write-off purposes. So that receipt, as soon as they donate, gets sent to them via email. And I would like to make a not that when somebody donates, they have the option to stay part of the updates, the alerts, the emails, the text messages. Or they can opt out at that time and really throughout any of the campaign, the people that are submitted have the ability to opt out.
RG: Okay, question, what is the top campaign you’ve seen on the platform. Like what, you know, where everything is go, and then kind of also, what’s the average that you usually see in terms of fundraising?
BT: Yeah, so in terms of fundraising, in terms of some of the larger campaigns, we’ve seen come to our platform, it’s been bands and music programs that are going on. You know, some of these big trips, or they have to travel and bring their, you know, all their equipment and everything that they have, we’ve seen campaigns raised upwards of $40,000, I can go back to this slide here that breaks down a lot of the averages. So you can think about some of your teams, and these averages ring true for how much these campaigns are raising.
RG: Awesome cool. Alright I have a question about compliance at the school level or at the district level, is there, I know you ran through reporting so I’m assuming that’s probably a lot of it, but you know is there a way to like, explore the report that you could send up the change of, you know, for compliance reasons?
BT: Absolutely, yep. At the end of the campaign, and it can even e requested during the campaign at any time. You can provide a very detailed excel sheet that breaks down each of the donations and where they’re coming from, who they’re coming from.
RG: Okay great. And I heard you mentioned, you know, fine arts and any other sort of clubs. I know there’s some people who may be on this call, activities directors, in addition to just athletics, you know, have you seen, you know, different groups like plays, you said bands, as well using the software? Is it something that they can do?
BT: Yeah for sure, we’ve seen debate teams, robotics clubs, you name it. Any type of activity that’s taking place at the school can definitely utilize our platform.
RG: Okay. Is there a number of max. contacts, that was another one that came in.
BT: There’s not, nope.
RG: Perfect, great. So I see maybe a few more coming in. This is a question about analog, and you know, going digital. So I know you know, a lot of people in the new normal are thinking, you know, going fully digital, but I know there’s some that probably, you know, is there a way, have you seen people use this sort of in tandem with more tradition fundraising? To, you know, increase just general funds raised? Like can you speak a little bit on that topic?
BT: Yeah for sure, it can definitely be used in tandem. I mean we’ve seen teams where, for X amount of a donation, well we’ll hit $500, they have sponsorship levels. So businesses can also get involved, and they have sponsorships you can, we can create sponsorship levels for them. But also for the donor, so, you know, I’ve seen with football teams, those that donate $500, that donor gets a helmet. So you can also incorporate physical goods. And the best way I’ve seen that work is with sponsorship levels.
Are you guys able to hear me okay?
RE: Brett I can hear you still, I think we may have lost Romy.
BT: Rick is there anything else that, in case Romy doesn’t hop on, that we want to cover, or now I’m not able to see the questions coming in because I’m not the moderator, so, and I think everyone’s on listen-only mode so, okay.
RE: Let’s maybe give her 30 more seconds, but hopefully this was helpful for everyone, looks like we had great participation. There’s about 80 people on the phone, so let’s everyone have a safe weekend and enjoy your Friday, and thanks for participating. I know we will circulate this, not only the slideshow, but also a recording of the webinar. So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Brett directly, Romy, or myself. Our contact information’s all in there. Thanks a lot.